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6/23/24 Sermon

View today's sermon on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh24fDicUik.


Note To Self

There is madness in your world,

your country, your state, yourtown.

Maybe in your house.

Maybe in your heart.

What can you do?

You are one person, one drop

in the sea, how can you change

huge dark forces?

Start small.

Try this:

Don’t judge. Don’t hate.

Don’t be unkind in front of

children. Try not to be afraid.

Try to get comfortable with

what you don’t understand.

Question the source of

your information. Question your

beliefs. Slow down, exhale.

Look for our sameness, and

try to respect our differences.

Treat people as if they

are family, because they are.

Consider what’s best for everyone.

And if it’s too much

to remember at first, keep it simple:

Be kind.

Be fair.

Be kind.

Be fair.

June 5, 2017

From: Welcome Homesick


Acts 2:43-47 – New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Life among the Believers

43 Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.


Matthew 15:29-39 – New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Jesus Cures Many People

29 After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the maimed, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, 31 so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.


Feeding the Four Thousand


32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat, and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” 33 The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” 34 Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And all of them ate and were filled, and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 38 Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.


And then all that has divided us will merge

And then compassion will be wedded to power

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind

And then both men and women will be gentle

And then both women and men will be strong

And then no person will be subject to another’s will

And then all will be rich and free and varied

And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many

And then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance

And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old

And then all will nourish the young

And then all will cherish life’s creatures

And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth

And then everywhere will be called Eden once again


In the Acts of the Apostles we are told of the wonderous works that the apostles are doing since Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them on the day of Pentecost. They were living in community, sharing what they had so that all had enough. 


In the Book of Matthew we are reminded of a time that Jesus showed compassion for those who came to him to be healed in body, mind, or spirit. 


Both scripture readings illustrate large groups of people sharing the abundance of resources that were available then and that are still available now, if only we will redistribute as necessary. Communities of believers living cooperatively should not be only past history but should be everywhere we look today. That was Judy Chicago’s dream. That is my dream; our dream.


Believers. Our scriptures are being fairly specific. These people written about in our Holy Bible were brought to an understanding of faith through the compassion and kindness shown by Jesus, and then by the apostles.


My NRSV Bible subtitles this section of Matthew, “Life among the Believers.” I don’t care much for the subtitles because they can influence how we think about what we are reading, limiting our understanding of any given passage. This passage is referring to the community that was following Jesus, but now, 2000 years later it is good to think how this might encompass life in general, with believers of different faiths or with people of no faith tradition. 

There are multiple paths to our Creator. Our One God is known by many names. 


Jesus is who I choose to follow but he is not the only wise one, sitting on a mountain, making himself available to those with questions or needs. Jesus is one of the many who point the way to God.


My Master’s Thesis was a World religion camp.  I chose to explore the five most prominent faiths: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Not surprisingly, all have love in common – all have a “golden rule” instructing compassionate ways of living.


More generally, we are witnessing the power of love in these scriptures. It does not matter whether we come to understand the importance of taking this to heart because of hearing Jesus’ message, the message of Buddha, the message of the Prophet Muhammad, or the message of any other wise one teaching love and compassion as guiding tenets. 


Compassion was Jesus’ superpower, Buddha’s superpower, Muhammad’s superpower. And compassion is our superpower. 


Compassion is the gateway to Selflessness, the gateway to Abundance, the gateway to Love. 

Our scriptures tell us that Jesus cured people of their ills. How did he do that? By listening. By being present to those often overlooked and undervalued. Throughout scripture Jesus asks those seeking him out, what do you want me to do for you? Jesus allowed those seeking healing to name their pain, to name their illness, to speak the truth of their desire to be made well. 


Jesus was about helping all people become their best selves, helping them to achieve wholeness. 


The composite sketch of Jesus that resonates with me is of one who truly believed that all individuals were worthy. Worthy of Jesus’ time and attention, worthy of being seen and heard in their setting, worthy of having their basic needs met, worthy of love and respect.

We are all equally worthy in the sight of God. Jesus understood this and lived this out loud, even to the point of pain, suffering, and death. 


When we are more compassionate toward others we freely share – out of our scarcity, so that all have some – and out of our abundance, so that all have enough. 


I wonder… 

1) What are we blind to that compassion can help us to see? 

2) What needs to be healed in ourselves that will make us more compassionate toward others? 

3) Who are we silencing? Whose voices do we need to hear in order to make this world just and equitable? 

4) Are we living as if there is only one way to God? 

---

I have witnessed miracles. I have experienced miracles. I have been in the presence of people that made me see the world in a new way. Jesus did that for people. We need to do that for one another too. Compassion is contagious. So is hate. We know which one we need to nourish and grow and which one we need to eradicate. 

Please, do not underestimate the power you have to make a difference in the lives of those struggling to be seen and heard and accepted by sometimes unforgiving and unaccepting individuals or groups. 


“After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down.” (Matt 15:29) Jesus teaches us how to be present and available to those in need. 


Spell it out. Call it out. In this scripture from Matthew, Jesus spells it out for the disciples, and for us. “I have compassion…” he says. Jesus names his concerns… they have been with me for three days and now have not enough to eat and will surely faint from hunger on the way home. 


Jesus teaches the apostles how to care for one another. After blessing the loaves and fish he puts the bread and fish in the apostles hands to share with one another. 


Jesus has compassion for all people, exemplifying Judy Chicago’s words, ‘… And then compassion will be wedded to power…” 


Practice compassion. It is our superpower. It is our only hope for a better world. 


Practice compassion so  “…then everywhere will be called Eden once again.”


Amen

Rev. TJ Mack – June 23, 2024


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